Friday, June 4, 2010

Corpus Christi 2010: Stormy Weather

It was indeed stormy in Rome yesterday evening and this was given as the reason for cancellation of the Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to St Mary Major, in front of which, in keeping with tradition, Benediction had originally been planned to take place. As it was Pope Benedict led Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and gave the Benediction service at the end of the Mass in St. John Lateran. The cancellation was a tremendous disappointment and I felt particularly sorry for those who had travelled especially from outside Italy in order to be present for the Procession. I trust that in spite of the weather many will have been outside St. John Lateran and will have viewed the proceedings on the usual giant screens. It might have been thought that in view of his imminent journey to Cyprus, the Holy Father would have taken the opportunity to go back to the Apostolic Palace earlier than the appointed time. No such thing. The kto broadcast that I watched did not end until the scheduled time, (although rather abruptly) as the Holy Father began to leave the basilica.

He had given another stunning homily during the Mass. (A big thank you to the Rorate Caeli blog for publishing the full text.) Towards the end of the Mass it occurred to me why I find the preaching of Benedict XVI so holy, moving and of lasting spiritual value. I think it is because one is conscious that he does not cease to pray whilst he is speaking, and therefore nor do we. This has the effect of making his homilies seamless with the Mass, and not some additional extra which we are obliged to sit through. Instead his homilies thus become part of an interior, active participation entered into by his listeners.

After the Corpus Christi broadcast there was a news flash about the murder of Bishop Padovesi, president of the Turkish Conference of Bishops. He was stabbed to death by his driver only a few hours before he had planned to leave Turkey and join Pope Benedict in Cyprus. At Vatican Radio, I learned that the alleged assailant had previously shown loyalty to the bishop, although recently he had given the impression of being depressed. Fr. Lombardi has opined that we can therefore discount any political motive for the murder. Of course, Father may have other unpublished informationr. All the same I found his judgment a little premature.

And then there is the brewing storm surrounding the 'organisation' of the Catholic aspects of the Pope's visit to England in September. Many thanks are due to Fr. Tim Finigan who in a post today, not only gives a link to the full text of Damian Thompson's article in the Spectator, but to several other blog and newspaper comments, including those from Fr. John Boyle, Joanna Bogle, and Reluctant Sinner. To save repetition you can take it that the analysis to be found at these four links expresses my own suspicions, views and feelings. As far as suspicions are concerned I'm afraid that this whole 'mess of potage' is the result of intention rather than mere ineptitude. Apart from anything else, these developments also seem to expose Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor as continuing to be a powerful influence behind the scenes. Archbishop Nichols cannot be his own, or properly the Pope's man, whilst that influence continues.

To end on a more constructive note, Father Mark has an excellent argument at Vultus Christi as to why it has been wrong to move the Solemnity of Corpus Christi from Thursday to this coming Sunday.

Next post on Monday (DV) (the Holy Father is due back from Cyprus on Sunday). I hope to return to the question: 'Why doesn't the Pope make a clear statement on some of the 'vexed issues' that were raised by my earlier post on practice at Papal liturgies.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your wise comments about the Corpus Christi Mass, Jane. When I realised that there was going to be no procession, I must say I thought this was because the Holy Father was leaving for Cyprus the next day and had been advised to get an "early night". This would have been wise, but I found it odd that no announcement had been made weeks beforehand. Then I found out about the thunderstorms. Two of my friends had gone to Rome especially for the procession, so I do feel sorry for them.
I agree with you about the Holy Father's homilies. I've just heard another one, from the Holy Cross Church in Paphos Gate, Cyprus - no need for translation, either!
Keep up the good work, Jane!

Jane said...

In absolute agreement about this evening's homily on the Holy Cross from the church of the Holy Cross.